What’s the worst mistake you can make when starting a new job?

There are a myriad of silly mistakes you can make when you are starting a new job.  From turning up late on your first day, wearing those Moon walker trousers that really should have been binned years ago or spending all day tweeting your pals about how boring it is there.

In my younger days I used to arrive at a new job a little too cocksure, masking my inexperience by being over confident.  This bolshie attitude didn’t really go down well with my new colleagues, who rather than seeing the next Richard Branson, saw an irritating and offensive character that was upsetting the apple cart.

I’m sure a few of those idiosyncrasies still exist in my make-up today, but thankfully I’d like to feel I now have the experience to know how to start a new job with behaviour that doesn’t risk me becoming ostracised by my colleagues.

But the worst mistake I ever made when starting  a new job a few years ago is a common one and one that came from strangely being too enthusiastic about a role.

Starting a new job: Bathwater out with the baby

Like many marketers, when starting a new job I like to assess exactly how effective a company’s current marketing strategy is.  I always ask myself a number of key questions, such as; is their business strategy focused on inbound marketing or outbound marketing.  What is their budget split for online, trade shows, POS, etc.  What kind of ROI are they getting on their marketing spend?  How are they driving traffic to their website and how exactly do their customers find them and what kind of repeat business do they get.

But for some reason, I forgot to apply all this principles when I started as a Marketing Manager with a small company around 5 years ago.  Within the first week I had come to the conclusion that their marketing methods were antiquated and irrelevant.  I decided that instead of trade shows, mailers and bundles of ads in the relevant trade magazines, that the company in question needed to join the online revolution.

By week 2 I’d ditched their existing PR and marketing agency and brought in my own team who quickly started redesigning the website and putting together an SEO and PPC proposal.

By week 3 I told all the journals that we wouldn’t be advertising with them again and by week 4 I’d scrapped all the trade shows for the following year, thinking the money would be better funnelled into the new online activity.

The mistakes continued.  I worked almost in completion isolation, thinking I was plotting a fantastic future for the business, without taking into consideration anything that the previous marketing manager had spent years building up.

Starting a new job: It’s the new style 

Within a month I’d completely scrapped the marketing plan that they used for years and replaced it with an approach I was sure would be a winner.  The only fly in the ointment was that I hadn’t really researched whether any of their existing methods really brought them the return they were after.

Turns out that the trade shows that I was so quick to cancel were actually very lucrative and they had secured some big customers off the back of them that year.

My instincts regarding the PR company proved to be right and the new team began delivering much better results and we were never going to see a decent return from trade magazine advertising and that was also the right thing to do.

But because I’d got carried away and over enthusiastic about changing things and making my mark, the Directors of the business didn’t really understand what was happening and become a little wary of my marketing tactics.

The first month with the new business should have been nothing more than a learning exercise.  I should have been finding out more about the business, their competitors, the staff and most importantly for me what success they were getting with their existing marketing strategy.

By storming in with my I know best attitude, I managed to alienate the very colleagues who I needed co-operation from.  Had I have taken a more measured, considered and cooperative approach and gradually instigated my marketing strategy over a number of months, then I may have had a better level of success.

My perception within the company was that of a marketing maverick and the company demonstrated their complete lack of faith in my marketing philosophy by vastly reducing my budget.

Starting a new job: Exit Stage Left 

Within 3 months we had reached stalemate and I left the business.  What could have been a really interested and exciting opportunity was ultimately kyboshed, not because I was useless, but because of an over enthusiastic approach of trying to change a business’s marketing strategy too quickly.

I should have taken the time to learn the business and prove to my colleagues that I had something to offer without trying to change the world before lunchtime.